Dear Traffic Reporters:
I am a busy woman and I have too much noise in my life. So, when I’m driving I want quiet time. But I also need to listen to the traffic report to make sure I’m not heading into some traffic snarl that will prevent me from getting home for three hours. I want to get the information I need from your traffic report and get out. Turn off the radio. Have some quiet time. But, I find it hard to listen to every single word that you’re saying on your radio traffic reports. I’m always trying to filter through the myriad of North, Souths, and highways numbers you’re throwing out there, just listening for the information I need. But this is often what I hear
There is an accident in the right hand lane heading North between 12th and Broadway on Granville Street.
Now I’ve just listened to that whole sentence and I’m not anywhere near Granville Street, nor do I intend to be in the 15 minutes. I need to know up front if this is a sentence I need to listen to. And if it is, I don’t then want to have to memorize it, because, as in my example, say I was on Granville Street, now I have to back up in my mind and visualize the Northbound lane, then the right lane to determine if this affects the route I’m taking. And while I’m doing that you’ve moved on to some other crucial traffic information that now I’ve missed. This is my advice to you, and I haven’t been to traffic reporter school, so forgive me if this is gauche:
Start with the big information first and funnel down to the finer points. For example,
On Granville Street, South End (ah, I do need to listen) between 12th and Broadway (still need to listen) heading North (yep) in the right hand lane (uh huh) there is an accident with emergency crews on the scene (hmm, guess I’ll swing over to Burrard).
See how much more useful that is to the listener?
Ah, and one more little phrasing suggestion; when letting the public know there is a pedestrian accident, your best choice of phrase is not
They’re clearing up the last of that pedestrian hit on Main Street.
Just thought I’d throw in that extra tip for you.
Personally, I’d like them SLOW DOWN! I typically have the commute of about four yards down the hall to The Office from The Kitchen, but when your day begins with Radio1, you get to hear Jenna Chow slam through about fifteen slow-downs, back-ups, and accidents in about twenty seconds. The result is akin to this:
It’s a good thing I don’t drive to work any more; I’d end up by the side of the road quivering with fear that the entire Metro Vancouver area is one gigantic “no go zone”.
I probably wouldn’t be wrong, either.